Employee Appreciation Day Should Be a Year-Round Effort

With Employee Appreciation Day coming up this Friday, March 4th, workplaces around the country are looking for ways to say “thank you” to their workers. Yet according to research, many of us don’t actually feel like we’re appreciated in our workplaces.

Many workers don’t feel appreciated

A recent study by Kronos found that 47 percent of employees don’t feel fully appreciated in their jobs today. With almost half of the workforce feeling underappreciated, employee appreciation needs to be a year-round effort, not just a single day.

Appreciation, as we’re discovering, isn’t as straightforward as receiving a raise or cash bonus — it comes from a more human approach of creating a shared vision for your team, and then creating a company culture that rewards individuals’ efforts for supporting this vision.

Creating meaningful appreciation and engagement

At the core, there are three basic steps to creating meaningful, long-lasting employee appreciation:

  1. Create company-wide goals that include a shared vision for all teams. Make it clear how every employee’s work impacts these greater shared goals within the company
  2. Acknowledge each employee for their specific contributions to these goals
  3. Reward employees in meaningful and diverse ways

Today’s leaders are paying attention to the complexity of appreciation, and they’re seeking out more meaningful ways to appreciate their employees through engagement. Here are a couple of great quotes from real-life managers in the Kronos study that speak to this:

The best way to engage and retain employees is to connect the good work they do to the organization’s goals and accomplishments.
— Sharlyn Lauby, author, HR Bartender, and president of ITM Group Inc.
Acknowledging employees’ efforts motivates and inspires much more than many people realize. It’s also easy to do and doesn’t cost a thing.
— Joyce Maroney, director, The Workforce Institute at Kronos

Employees want different things for appreciation

In honor of Employee Appreciation Day, the staff at Boston.com surveyed their readers to see how employees themselves would want to be thanked at their jobs. These were their results:

  • 24 percent wanted a ban on sending work emails at night or on the weekends
  • 21 percent wanted bosses to encourage taking breaks throughout the day
  • 18 percent wanted more frequent feedback from managers
  • 17 percent wanted a free gym or workout space
  • 10 percent wanted a formal system for thanking or recognizing peers
  • 10 percent wanted to be reimbursed for professional training courses

The number one and two things that people said they’d like as a thank you — a ban on work emails at night/on weekends and more breaks throughout the day — indicate that many employees would like an improved work/life balance. The other categories reflect a desire to have better communication with managers, opportunities for personal growth and development, and systematic recognition programs.

These are all different types of rewards, and this list will inevitable vary from workplace to workplace. That’s why it’s important to offer different types of rewards and perks in your own recognition program — not just one — and to make them sure they’re meaningful to the people that actually work in your company.

Ask yourself …

As a manager or leader in your company, do YOU know how your employees would like to be thanked and rewarded? Have you demonstrated the connection between their work and the greater goals of the company? Do you have a plan in place to not only say “thank you” once a year, but to continually acknowledge their efforts in a meaningful way? 

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